Small Wars Journal

Trump Should Not Relinquish Soft Power

Sat, 07/08/2017 - 12:14pm

Trump Should Not Relinquish Soft Power by James Stavridis - CNN News

Ten years ago, a little boy walked for two days with his mother to the USNS Comfort's eye clinic. The Comfort is a Navy warship that operates as a hospital ship in the Caribbean and South America, with a crew from both the military and non-profit sectors providing free medical care. After his eye exam and treatment, the 8-year-old looked up and said, "Mama, veo el mundo." "Mom, I see the world."

In 2007, when I was commander of the US Army Southern Command, the Comfort treated close to 100,000 patients in 12 countries, performed 1,700 surgeries, issued more than 32,000 immunizations and trained 28,000 medical students and technicians.

Some people are shocked that military leaders are such strong advocates of what Harvard's Joseph Nye called "soft power," or the ability of a country to persuade without force or coercion. But I know first-hand how it enhances America's security.

Which is why I am so concerned about the Trump's administration proposed budget cuts to soft-power programs throughout the government. Under the budget proposal for 2018, military spending amounts to about 16% of the budget, while State Department programs account for less than 1%.

Worst yet, recently the President proposed a cut of 26% for global health programs -- "the lowest level of funding since FY 2008," according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Funds for AIDS alone would drop by about $860 million.

While I am not proposing a specific ratio of spending, I believe there is a symbiotic relationship between hard and soft power and that, in both cases, we need to invest in the programs that succeed…

Read on.